Burberry’s chief executive and chief creative officer Christopher Bailey would become the company’s president and chief creative officer, handing over the title of CEO to Céline’s Marco Gobbetti.
Christopher Bailey and Burberry
Christopher Bailey is a man who transformed Burberry into a luxury fashion house with a focus on digital innovation. He was appointed as a chief creative officer in 2009 and later on also took on the role of CEO. The dual position made Bailey responsible for creating and delivering on Burberry’s business strategy, design and global vision. Since he joined Burberry, the brand has expanded significantly into Chinese and Japanese markets with the company’s share price increasing by over 500 percent and its profits by £350m. In 2014 Burberry reported £2.5 billion in revenue.
However this was not the only change Bailey brought to the company. As a digital pioneer, he transferred Burberry into the most tech-savy fashion brand in the world. Digital campaigns like the ‘Art of the Trench’ that he launched with a street style photographer Scott Schuman and premiering the entire collections on Snapchat a day before the catwalk show have been a massive success.
His other initiatives include enabling customers to pre-order items straight off the catwalk. This transformed the whole catwalk season and reshaped the manufacturing process. Burberry was also the first brand to combine their menswear and womenswear runway shows, the trend that has now been followed by other luxury fashion houses. The changing room mirrors within Burberry’s flagship store at London’s Regent Street can also scan and play the video clips about the production of the items and their presentation at London Fashion Week. I’m not even mentioning Burberry Acoustic and Burberry Foundation. These are just some of the initiatives that brought the company to the new market level with a new generation of buyers enjoying this ‘retail entertainment’.
When I met Christopher after the catwalk show at Burberry HQ about a year ago, he was more excited than ever: “I thrive on digital! It excites me and there are so many surprises we are preparing for the future Burberry!”. All of his ideas and ‘surprises’ that he told me about in private have been brought to life in a couple of months’ time. However, I still couldn’t believe that I met a man who was able to be responsible for so many projects at the same time. There’s only 24 hours in a day, but Christopher definitely makes the most of that.
Burberry is always looking forward and it seems that now is the time for another change. A few days ago Christopher Bailey was appointed to a newly created title of president of the company. His previous role of a CEO is going to be taken by Marco Gobbetti, who will join the company next year. Burberry’s shares jumped 7.9 percent on the news, their strongest share price in three years.
“I am very excited that Marco Gobbetti is joining us as chief executive officer and as a partner to me. Marco brings incredible experience and skills in luxury and retail with him that will be invaluable to us. On a personal level, I know that we are going to enjoy a wonderfully collaborative partnership that makes me very excited for our future at Burberry.”
– Christopher Bailey
Bailey and Gobbetti will be working in partnership reporting to Burberry chairman John Peace. This is what he said in his statement about the new direction for the brand:
“Since taking on the combined role of chief executive and chief creative officer, Christopher Bailey has done an excellent job set against a backdrop of challenging market conditions. The review that he has led into our ways of working is the blueprint for the next phase of Burberry’s evolution. In order to maximise our ability to successfully implement these plans, Christopher identified the need for a new chief executive for the business who could partner with him as we execute on the new strategies and I am excited to see what they will do together.”
What do we know about Marco Gobbetti?
Marco Gobbetti is a chairman and chief executive of a French luxury brand Céline, where he was appointed in 2008. He has been involved with the fashion industry for more than 20 years, having previously worked at Givenchy and Moschino. It is clear that even though Gobbetti has a lot of experience in the field, he will have to prove himself and work on a much bigger scale for a much bigger company than he has worked for previously.
“I am delighted that Marco will be joining us to work alongside Christopher in his new role as we embark upon the next chapter in our 160-year-old success story. He has an outstanding track record of delivering growth in the luxury industry and his vision for the sector and how it will evolve is extremely impressive. The board firmly believes that these new leadership roles coupled with actions, identified in the recent business review, will significantly enhance our ability to deliver long-term sustainable growth and sector outperformance over time.”
– John Peace
Burberry has been struggling lately because of the sales slowdown in mainland China and Hong Kong, as well as lower sales in the European market as tourists decided to stay away from Paris following last year’s attacks. The company reported a 10 percent drop in annual pretax profit, which is obviously a massive struggle for a brand of such scale.
Head of luxury goods at Exane BNP Paribas Luca Solca stated:
“This is a step forward for Burberry, where we perceived a need of reinvention and stronger direction. However, investors should be aware, of course, that we will have to wait a few quarters before the impacts of the new leadership translate in the business”.
Appointing a new CEO with a good track record in luxury industry is a positive change for a brand. A man who reinvented Givenchy prior to changing the ground at Céline, has also demonstrated success in partnering with top creative talents, such as Phoebe Philo and Riccardo Tisci. We have no doubt Marco and Christopher will have an extremely successful partnership and that there are a lot of exciting projects on the way.
Text: Irina Gorskaia
Images: Getty Images, Burberry